World Cup 2018 Betting Odds Comparison

World Cup 2018 Semi-Finals

France v Belgium – Belgians to Edge Brilliant Battle

The winners of Group C (France) and Group G (Belgium) meet in the first semi-final of the 2018 World Cup. Both were among the favourites before a ball was kicked and both have hugely talented squads with brilliant balance and strength in depth.

The Belgians have been the highest scoring side at the World Cup thus far and whilst their defence looked shaky at times against Brazil they did enough to beat the then-favourites. Their reward for seeing off Neymar and co is a semi-final clash against the new favourites, France.

France struggled in the early stages of the tournament, just edging past Australia and Peru before a dour draw with Denmark. They have improved since though and their 4-3 win over Argentina will live long in the memory whilst they were professional and efficient to see off Uruguay in the quarters.

France are the warm favourites for this game, with the 1998 World Cup winners priced at best betting odds of 8/5, compared to 11/5 for Roberto Martinez’s men. As the odds indicate, this should be a close game. Comparing every position, player by player, the two rivals are so very well matched.

Ultimately we just feel that Belgium have the edge, especially at the current odds. 11/5 looks solid value but for our betting tip we’re being slightly more ambitious. Eden Hazard’s men have now won their last three by a single goal and that’s our tip here, with 2-1 the most likely score.

Betting Tip: Belgium to Win by One Goal

Quarter Finals - Saturday 7th July

Sweden v England – England to Edge It

Sweden and England kick things off in the bottom half of the draw and both will feel they may never get a better chance to make a World Cup final. Russia or Croatia await the winners before a much sterner test in the final itself, although both Gareth Southgate and Sweden’s Janne Andersson will not be getting ahead of themselves.

England, third favourites in the outright betting, are well fancied to get past the Swedes. The Three Lions are odds-on, with Sweden out at 4/1. The draw is sure to tempt some in what is likely to be a close match but we fancy England can just about edge this one.

The Three Lions are yet to keep a clean sheet in Russia but we think they will win to nil in Samara. Sweden have done astoundingly well to come this far. They escaped a qualifying group with Holland and France in it, beat Italy in the play-offs and then survived their Group F tussle with Mexico and Germany.

However, we predict this will be a test too far against an England side that has looked surprisingly solid at the back. Southgate’s men have conceded few clear chances and whilst the Swedes notched three against Mexico they don’t usually score too freely. We fancy England to win this 1-0 or possibly 2-0 but will play things slightly safer for our betting tip.

Betting Tip: England to Win to Nil

Russia v Croatia – The Dream Lives On

Russia had been brought back down to earth by their 3-0 group stage loss against Uruguay and most expected Spain would teach them a similar lesson. Whilst Spain dominated possession, Russia were resolute and, roared on by the home crowd, they hung on to take the game into extra time and penalties.

Croatia beat Denmark via the same method, the game also ending 1-1, and now the two meet in Sochi. Croatia are very big favourites at odds of around 5/4 but that looks far too short to us. We’re going bold with our tip for this one, with another Russian roulette penalties triumph!

Games at this stage are invariably tight, tense affairs. Both sides will give their all but as the game wears on they may decide to settle for a shootout. Having both triumphed on penalties last time out they will feel confident they can do so again and at big odds we predict it will be the hosts celebrating after a long night in Sochi.

Betting Tip: Russia to Win on Penalties

Quarter Finals - World Cup 2018

Uruguay v France – Improving French to Progress

Both of these nations are growing into the tournament very nicely and having started slowly they are beginning to look dangerous. They topped Groups A and C respectively without ever really firing on all cylinders but then stepped things up, Uruguay beating Portugal 2-1 and France getting the better of Messi’s Argentina 4-3.

Many predicted those last 16 games would be dour affairs but they were far from it. France versus Argentina in particular was a classic, with some stunning goals and magical moments and we’re predicting this game will also be open and entertaining. Kylian Mbappe illuminated the match against Argentina and we think he can help his side edge this encounter in Nizhny Novgorod.

Betting Tip: Mbappe to Score and France to Win

Brazil v Belgium – Can Belgium Prove They Belong?

This so-called golden generation of Belgian footballers needs to win a major tournament, or make the final at least, in order to silence their many critics. The knives were being sharpened once again when they trailed Japan 2-0 last time out. However, they proved they have character and mettle by coming back to win 3-2 and now face a huge test against Brazil.

Neymar and co writhed and rolled their way past Mexico rather more comfortably and remain the favourites for outright glory. They are priced a shade longer than evens here but that looks a little short to us. We predict a close affair and so our tip here is for Brazil to edge this one in the second half.

Betting Tip: Draw/Brazil in HT/FT

Tuesday 3rd July – Last 16

Sweden v Switzerland – Physical Battle But Few Goals

Saint Petersburg is a stunning city, famed for culture, art and beauty. This clash between Sweden and Switzerland might have been better suited to the mining town of Yekaterinburg! If Brazil are the Hermitage Museum, Sweden and Switzerland are heavy industry. Big, powerful teams carved out of stone and whose success is based on commitment and athleticism.

This clash may not be one for the neutrals and we wouldn’t advise against bets on there being a red card. Backing a penalty could also be wise but we’re going for a long odds option here. We predict a very tight, close game and 1-1 looks well worth a small wager.

Betting Tip: 1-1 Correct Score

Colombia v England – Three Lions to Roar

England rotated their side for their group decider with Belgium, lost, and now face Colombia. In theory, this is a tougher last 16 game but, again in theory, an easier quarter final could be the prize. Permutations, calculations and predictions aside, Gareth Southgate’s men are warm favourites here.

Of course, they were hot fancies two years ago against Iceland at the Euros so there will be no complacency. Colombia scraped into the last 16, even if they did actually win Group H. Their star man, James Rodriguez, is going to be 90% fit at best and that will hurt their chances in the same way it impacted them in the group. They are not a one-man band but without a fully fit Rodriguez we fancy England to win.

Betting Tip: England to Win

Monday 2nd July – Last 16

Brazil v Mexico – Brazil to Confirm Position as Tournament Favourites

Brazil topped Group E and after a sensational Matchday 3, Mexico were runners-up in Group F, thus spawning this last 16 Latin fiesta in the distinctly non-Latin Samara. Following Germany’s exit and substandard performances from other top sides, Brazil are the clear favourites for the World Cup and are odds-on to win here.

Prior to their 3-0 pummelling at the hands of the Swedes and Germany’s demise (which somewhat takes the sheen off Mexico’s victory over Die Mannschaft), El Tri were beginning to be thought of as dark horses. That has changed but they still possess enough going forward to trouble Brazil. We predict a 3-1 final score here but for our betting tip we’re playing it a shade safer.

Betting Tip: Brazil to Win and BTTS

Belgium v Japan – Belgian Muscle to Much for Japanese Will

There was much toing and froing in Groups G and H before Japan scraped through via a superior fair play record and Belgium pipped England to top spot. That leaves us with this clash in Rostov-on-Don and Belgium are big favourites. Roberto Martinez rested most of his first choice side against the Three Lions so they will be raring to go here.

Japan also made changes for their final group game and it nearly backfired. However, they too will be well rested and that could help their high energy game. Ultimately though we have to side with Belgium. Their superior class will shine and we fancy Romelu Lukaku to use his physical attributes to help his nation ease into the quarters.

Betting Tip: Belgium to Win and Lukaku to Score

Last 16 - Sunday 1st July

Spain v Russia – Goals Galore in Moscow?

Russia have surprised many people thus far in the World Cup but they were brought back down to earth with a bump against Uruguay. Spain have also surprised people, mainly in how open they have been at the back, conceding three against Portugal and two against Morocco. Knockout phase games are usually tense but we expect a bit of a thriller here.

The partisan crowd will get right behind their side and we expect Russia to give it a real go. They definitely have goals in them but ultimately we have to think the superior ability of the Spanish will see them through. Spain are odds-on here but our tip is to throw in BTTS too for a bigger payout.

Betting Tip: Spain and BTTS

Croatia v Denmark – Midfield Majesty to Give Croatia Control

Croatia were thought of as dark horses at Euro 2016 after impressing at times before they lost in extra time to eventual winners Portugal in the Round of 16. This time they are perhaps even better and with some big nations faltering, they may feel they have a real chance of going all the way.

Denmark weren’t at the Euros but escaped Group C here in Russia with relative ease and in Christian Eriksen they have a world class midfielder. The problem is, Croatia have two or three top draw midfielders and the likes of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic will look to control this game and dominate in the centre of the park.

Betting Tip: Croatia to Win to Nil

Last 16 - Saturday 30th June

France v Argentina – Draw for Disappointing Duo

France topped Group C with relative ease and never really broke a sweat but also never really got out of second gear. On the plus side they will be relatively rested after their lifeless 0-0 draw with Denmark, a result which suited both nations.

Argentina, in contrast, had to fight till the very end against Nigeria and have looked very poor thus far. However, having made the knockout phase they may well improve and Lionel Messi will be boosted by his great goal last time out. As with many knockout games, this is likely to be scrappy and tense and so we predict a draw on Saturday. We might even be in for the excitement of a penalty shoot-out if we’re lucky!

Betting Tip: Draw

Uruguay v Portugal – Tense Encounter Likely

The last few minutes of action in Group B were manic, frantic, chaotic and controversial but when the dust settled we were left with this enticing last 16 clash. Uruguay took maximum points in Group A and looked good against Russia so they will fancy their chances here.

The bookies can barely split the duo, with all three outcomes very evenly priced. Both nations boast some robust defenders and world class attackers but tend to base their games around the former rather than the latter. As such we predict a tense, hard fought battle in Sochi with a single goal likely to be enough.

Betting Tip: Under 1.5 Goals

Thursday 28th June - Day 15

Japan v Poland – Japan to do Enough

Group H always looked like being one of the most open quartets at Russia 2018 and so it has proved. Poland have disappointed and are out but the Samurai Blue are vying with pre-tournament group favourites Colombia and Senegal to make the last 16.

A draw for Japan would be enough here and given Poland have nothing to play for we expect Akira Nishino’s men to do enough. Poland have looked very poor going forward, with Robert Lewandowski having a tournament to forget. We predict more of the same here in a low scoring stalemate.

Betting Tip: Draw and Under 2.5 Goals

Senegal v Colombia – Colombia Can Qualify

Colombia looked very impressive going forwards against Poland. It’s no surprise that players like James Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado can produce exciting football and, with the South Americans probably needing to win here, we predict an open game.

This could well be one of the best matches of the group phase, with Senegal already having been involved in two matches with over 2.5 goals. We think the class of Colombia will tell in the end but at long odds we are going for it to be a bit of a goalfest too.

Betting Tip: Colombia to Win and Over 3.5 Goals

England v Belgium – Premier League Spoils Shared

Both of these nations have put group minnows Tunisia and Panama to the sword and are already safely through to the last 16. It has been suggested that finishing second in the group may be advantageous but either way Roberto Martinez has already said he will rotate his team.

The two squads will be familiar with each other given the high number of Belgians that play in the Premier League. Given that and the fact there isn’t too much on the line here we predict a low key clash that is lacking in intensity and goals. At decent odds our betting tip here is a draw and don’t be surprised if it ends 0-0.

Betting Tip: Draw

Panama v Tunisia – Tunisia Can Put Points on the Board

Tunisia are big favourites here and we fully believe they can claim a win to condemn a poor Panama side to the wooden spoon. With the pressure off this could well turn into a decent game but based on the two matches each side have played it’s hard to see the Central Americans earning any points at their first World Cup.

Panama looked decidedly amateurish at times against both Belgium and England, conceding nine goals from their opening two games, more than any other nation. Tunisia won’t hit them for six but they should have enough ability to record a win, with 2-0 or 2-1 our prediction.

Betting Tip: Tunisia to Win

Wednesday 27th June - Day 14

Mexico v Sweden – Unlucky Losers to Produce Stale Draw

Mexico know that a point here will see them top the group but they won’t know if that will mean they avoid Brazil in the next round. Sweden’s equation is easier and they won’t be thinking about who they might face in the last 16, just about getting there. A win will be enough, whilst a draw could be if Germany lose.

Mexico have looked good thus far in their two wins and whilst Sweden may feel unfortunate after their late loss to Germany, it’s hard to argue they truly deserved a point. Mexico are firm favourites here but we think they are solid value and we predict they will maintain their 100% record.

Betting Tip: Mexico to Win

South Korea v Germany – Germans to Click

Against both Mexico and Sweden the Germans created plenty of chances but couldn’t finish them off. They also looked shaky at the back but we think against a limited South Korea they can record a convincing win and book their spot in the Round of 16.

The Asian side’s only goal thus far was a late consolation against Mexico and that was a long range effort. They lack a real cutting edge and we think Germany will have been massively boosted by their victory over the Swedes. Joachim Low’s men could just grow into this tournament nicely and peak at the right time. Never write off the Germans!Betting Tip: Germany to Win -1.5

Serbia v Brazil – Brazil May Settle for a Draw

Brazil are big favourites here but at a short odds-on price we’re going to oppose them. We predict the value in this one lies with the draw at chunky odds in what could be a fascinating day of football.

Serbia are a rugged side and whilst they probably need a win, a draw could be enough to see them through. They will certainly give their all and we think they may be able to nick a point. Depending on results earlier in the day Brazil may be happy to finish second in the group to avoid Germany in the last 16. With the favourites perhaps reluctant to go all out for the win we can’t back them at odds of around the 1/2 mark.

Betting Tip: Draw

Costa Rica v Switzerland – Swiss to Progress

Switzerland may also have their mathematicians crunching the numbers but whilst they would also probably like to avoid Germany we feel they won’t take any chances. They can be backed at odds just short of evens here and that looks a solid bet to us.

Costa Rica topped their group at the World Cup in Brazil but we predict it will be hero to zero for them and the wooden spoon beckons. They have looked decidedly average in Russia and we think an organised Swiss side will have enough to edge past them here.

Betting Tip: Switzerland to Win by One Goal

Tuesday 26th June – Day 13

Australia v Peru – Unlucky Losers to Produce Stale Draw

Both Australia and Peru may feel somewhat hard done by at this World Cup, although the Socceroos still have the chance to put things right. Both have been unlucky at times and could certainly have taken something from their games against France. Peru are out but the Aussies have an outside chance of making the last 16 if they win.

The bookies are having a hard time splitting the pair and we agree with that assessment. Both are solid at the back but struggle for goals, with Peru yet to score and both of Australia’s goals coming from penalties. With the pressure on here we can see this ending in a tense 0-0 or perhaps 1-1 draw.

Betting Tip: Draw and under 2.5 goals

Denmark v France – Draw Pleases All

As alluded to above, France have been poor and yet they top the group with six points and need just a draw here to stay there. Ultimately their class has shown, even if they have never got near to top gear. Denmark too have been lucky at times and they need a draw to make sure of a last 16 spot.

With both sides likely to be very happy with a point, we don’t see too much energy being expended here. As with the other game in the group, this could well end 0-0 but given the stalemate sees both sides through to the knockouts, that’s our betting tip at nice odds.

Betting Tip: Draw

Iceland v Croatia – Bye Bye to Brave Iceland

Croatia are virtually assured of top spot, which should mean they avoid France in the next round. Meanwhile, Iceland must win to have any chance of progressing but even then they are up against it. The bookies make Croatia clear favourites and we have to agree with that judgement.

Croatia’s results have arguably been a little better than their performances but it is hard to argue with two wins, five goals scored and none conceded. Iceland won’t make things easy in Rostov-on-Don but Croatia have the quality to control the game. Given they don’t need to attack we think they will pick their opponents off and claim another three points and another clean sheet.

Betting Tip: Croatia to Win to Nil

Nigeria v Argentina – Can Messi Deliver?

If Argentina can win this game they should make the last 16 and then from there, anything would once again be possible. They have been heavily criticised but they can bounce back and nick a win here. Lionel Messi has an unfair reputation for under-performing in blue and white – remember he almost single-handedly got his nation to the final four years ago.

Messi also scored a crucial hat-trick in the last qualifying game to beat Ecuador and confirm Argentina’s place in Russia. Nigeria will be confident after beating Iceland but class is permanent and we back Messi to deliver the goods and help his side to the required victory.

Betting Tip: Messi to Score Anytime

Monday 25th June – Day 12

Saudi Arabia v Egypt – Wooden Spoon Battle Unlikely to Thrill

After two defeats in their opening games for both of these sides their hopes of making the last 16 are over. Pride and avoiding the Group A wooden spoon are the only things at stake now but will that prove motivation enough for either to put on a show in Volgograd?

Egypt are big favourites and based on the four games featuring these nations so far that makes sense. The Saudis are yet to score and whilst the Pharaohs only have a single goal on the board, with Mo Salah closer to full fitness they should have enough to win this one.

Betting Tip: Egypt to Win to Nil

Uruguay v Russia – Close Clash the Call

Russia have been the surprise package of the 2018 World Cup in the first two games. Following an awful run of results in friendly internationals there were fears the lowest ranked side in the competition would fail to escape the group. Those fears were wide of the mark and now the hosts will want to top the group.

Whilst Russia have racked up a +7 goal difference, Uruguay have won both of their games 1-0. A draw would see Stanislav Cherchesov’s men win Group A and that might be a decent shout in what should be a close game. With the pressure off though we think the safer bet is to back both teams to score and our prediction for this one is for both to find the back of the net.

Betting Tip: Both Teams to Score

Iran v Portugal – Iran Won’t Change

Iran almost certainly need to win this game in order to make the last 16 whilst a draw will definitely see Portugal through. With no obvious last-16 draw benefit to winning Group B, we suspect Portugal will be content to sit back and so this may not be one for neutrals to savour.

In theory we should see Iran attacking and Portugal using their pace on the counter. However, in reality, we predict Iran will stick to their defensive tactics, which have served them so well in qualifying and in Russia thus far. This could well end 0-0 but we certainly don’t see too many goals in Saransk.

Betting Tip: Under -1.5 Goals

Spain v Morocco – Spain to Top the Group

As said, there is no huge advantage in winning this group, with the victors set to play Uruguay or Russia. Spain and Portugal may prefer to avoid the hosts in the last 16 but equally Uruguay’s robust defence and star-sprinkled attack could be the greater threat. That said, we fully expect Spain to win here and more than likely finish top of Group B.

Morocco have struggled to score thus far in Russia despite some promising play in midfield. Their attack lacks a focal point and they aren’t clinical enough. We therefore fancy they will be eliminated without a point, or even a goal, to their name.

Betting Tip: Spain to Win to Nil

Sunday 24th June - Day 11

England v Panama – Three Lions to Win a Little More Comfortably

England left it late to see off Tunisia but ultimately got the result their first half performance deserved. Tunisia definitely had the rub of the green when it came to the big decisions from the man in black but the Three Lions stuck to their task.

Panama also stuck to their task against Belgium and defended very well until they were undone by a moment of magic. We expect a similar sort of game here but England’s class should tell and they surely won’t waste as many chances as they did against Tunisia.

Betting Tip: England to Win 2-0

Japan v Senegal – Senegal to Win Again

Japan and Senegal upset the odds in Group H by beating Colombia and Poland, the group favourites. A win for either here would almost certainly see them through to the last 16 and we just about fancy the power and extra class of the Senegalese.

They made Poland look very poor during their 2-1 win in Moscow and they have enough class to nullify the energy of the Japanese in this one. The draw is tempting in what will be a close game but there is just about enough value on the favourites to back them here.

Betting Tip: Senegal to Win

Poland v Colombia – Colombia Can Come Back

Colombia’s task in their opening game with Japan was made almost impossible when they went down to 10 men inside five minutes. That they also conceded a penalty only compounded the issue and in the end they fought valiantly and created some decent chances.

There were no such excuses for the Poles though and despite one or two decent moments they were poor in the 2-1 loss to Senegal. Both nations will expect better here as they search for a much needed win but we think the South Americans look the better side. This could be a decent game given the mix of styles and whilst we can see Robert Lewandowski and co scoring, we think it will be in vane.

Betting Tip: Colombia to Win and BTTS

Saturday 23rd June - Day 10

Belgium v Tunisia – Classy Belgium to Make it Two Wins in Two

Belgium had to be patient against Panama but they got the job done to win 3-0. A victory here would virtually guarantee them a place in the last 16 and they should have too much for Tunisia who were poor against England. Belgium are big favourites and we fully expect them to win but fancy bigger returns are available than simply backing the “home” win.

Romelu Lukaku is well fancied to win the Golden Boot in Russia and scoring two goals against Panama was a great start. The Man United star has scored 15 times for Belgium in his last 10 games. His goals could send the Red Devils a long way in this tournament and we think he will help them to three points on Saturday.

Betting Tip: Lukaku to Score and Belgium to Win

Germany v Sweden – Germany to Stand Up

Germany were beaten by Mexico in their first game, whilst Sweden saw off South Korea. Both of those games ended 1-0 and we think we could see a similar outcome here. Sweden will feel a draw is a good result and given their attacking limitations we don’t expect them to create too much.

Germany have to improve and we think they will. They are on an awful run of results and confidence is low but they should be able to do enough to beat a nation who only qualified for the World Cup via the play-offs. We expect the 2014 champions to dominate possession, control the match and grind out a win to nil.

Betting Tip: Germany to Win to Nil

South Korea v Mexico – Mexico to Maintain Momentum

Mexico are a decent side that moves the ball well and the team has a nice mix of youth and experience. They deserved to beat Germany and should have no real problem out-passing a South Korea team that lacks any semblance of real quality.

Both sides are technically adept but we feel that Mexico have the edge in all areas of the pitch. We expect them to win with the minimum of fuss. They are firm favourites to seize the victory in Rostov-on-Don so back them to be leading at half time and full time to boost your returns.

Betting Tip: Mexico/Mexico in HT/FT

Friday 22st June – Day 9

Brazil v Costa Rica – Brazil to Bounce Back

Brazil and Switzerland played out a bad tempered and scrappy 1-1 draw in Rostov-on-Don but we expect a more entertaining match here. Switzerland’s niggly fouls and physicality weren’t fun for neutrals to watch but coach Vladimir Petković will have been delighted with the result.

Costa Rica were beaten 1-0 by Serbia in their opener, going down thanks to a superb Aleksandar Kolarov free-kick. It was an open game but the result means the Central Americans have now lost three on the bounce. They conceded four against Belgium recently and we think Neymar and co will enjoy this one.

Betting Tip: Brazil -1.5

Nigeria v Iceland – Icelandic Fairy Tale Has More Chapters

It may surprise some that Iceland are favourites here, with the bookies generally pricing all three outcomes around the 2/1 mark. The odds reflect the huge commitment and determination Iceland showed in snuffing out the threat of Argentina and we think the tiny nation can come up trumps again here.

On paper Nigeria have the better team but games have never and will never be won on paper. Iceland have an indefatigable belief and spirit that Nigeria cannot match and they can give themselves a brilliant chance of making the last 16 by winning in Volgograd.

Betting Tip: Iceland to Win

Serbia v Switzerland – Expect a Physical Battle in Kaliningrad

This clash could decide which of these nations makes the knockout phase at Russia 2018 and we expect a full-blooded, physical battle. Both nations have some technically gifted players but both are also very aggressive and committed. With so much at stake, the referee may be busier than the goalkeepers.

The Swiss are warm favourites and they may well edge things but we’re going a little more leftfield for our prediction here. Whilst the referees have generally been reluctant to brandish their cards, we think the man in black may have no choice and so our tip is for a sending off in what should be a feisty encounter.

Betting Tip: Red Card to be Shown

Thursday 21st June – Day 8

Denmark v Australia – Doughty Danes Dismiss Dour Aussies

Denmark know a thing or two about causing upsets. In fact, it’s something of a Schmeichel family tradition. Peter helped inspire his nation to glory in the 1992 Euros when they were late stand-ins for disqualified Yugoslavia. Son Kasper helped Leicester upset the odds over an entire season and so the Danes will believe anything is possible.

They are favourites here though, against an Australia side that pushed France hard in their first game but lost 2-1. Given Denmark have a number of players who, if not genuinely world class, are not too far short of that bracket, it is a surprise to see them only a shade under evens. As such our betting tip is nice and simple: Denmark to win.

Betting Tip: Denmark to win

France v Peru – French to Prevail

This game sees Group C leaders play the side currently bottom of the pile but Peru will feel they were a little unlucky against Denmark and can still qualify for the last 16. Peru are very solid at the back – the strike notched by the Danes was just the second goal they had conceded in eight games.

As such this should be another close game and we’re going to stick with the winning tip we gave for France’s last clash. We expect Didier Deschamps’ men to win but they will have to grind down their opponents and we predict they will once more do the business in the second half.

Betting Tip: Draw/France in HT/FT

Argentina v Croatia – Demoralised Messi May Struggle

At the end of Argentina’s 1-1 draw with Iceland Lionel Messi cut a forlorn figure. Yet again he was unable to deliver his best in the blue and white stripes. Messi has previously said that he had accepted he would never win a tournament with Argentina. He may have changed his mind when he reversed his international retirement but one got the impression after the Iceland disappointment that he was thinking “not again”.

For all their attacking might, Argentina lack balance and cohesion and we think they could struggle here. Croatia have some stars of their own and they would certainly take a draw. We think they can get a point, so expect more Messi misery come full time.

Betting Tip: Draw

Wednesday 20th June – Day 7

Portugal v Morocco - Portugal to Edge Thriller

Although Portugal won the Euros by grinding out results and have a reputation for dour football at times, they are involved in their fair share of goalfests. This one is unlikely to be as thrilling as the 3-3 with Spain but we certainly fancy more goals.

Five of their six games this year have seen three or more goals and we predict more of the same here. Morocco were unlucky to lose against Iran and had several chances so we expect them to play their part in another decent clash in Moscow.

Betting Tip: Portugal and BTTS

Uruguay v Saudi Arabia - Suarez to Join Party

Uruguay nicked a late winner against Egypt but will find things much easier against the Saudis. The South Americans won their opener 1-0 but Luis Suarez missed a number of chances. We expect him to get more good opportunities here and be far less profligate.

The Saudis seemed to think defending was best done with their eyes closed against Russia and they made the UK government’s Brexit planning seem well organised for much of the game. We fancy they will be put to the sword again in this one and it could well be Suarez doing the feasting.

Betting Tip: Suarez to score two or more goals

Iran v Spain - Slick Spaniards to Ease to Win

Spain were hugely impressive for much of their game against Cristiano Ronaldo (or was it Portugal?) and we think they will win with ease here. If you agree with our prediction that all three favourites will prevail on Wednesday you can back the treble at odds of around 6/5 and that looks good.

Back to this match, and we have to note that Iran were very fortunate to see off Morocco. Whilst that will have boosted their confidence they may struggle here. Spain played some great football against Portugal and with Iran offering little threat, a Spain win by two or more goals looks good here.

Betting Tip: Spain -1.5

Tuesday 19th June – Day6

Colombia v Japan – Classy Colombians Can Deliver

Group H finally gets underway with this game between Colombia and Japan in Saransk. The South Americans, who have some world class players, are big favourites against a Japanese side that will work hard. Colombia are odds-on and we think they can start the World Cup with a strong display.

Japan have some technically gifted players and always give their all but, aside from a 4-2 win over Paraguay last time out, recent results have been poor. Ultimately we think class will tell here and we fancy Colombia to start and end well.

Betting Tip: Colombia/Colombia in HT/FT

Poland v Senegal – Poland to Prove too Powerful

Moscow hosts this game, the last of the first batch of clashes at the 2018 World Cup. Poland are warm favourites here and having made the quarter finals of the 2016 Euros they will be eyeing a similar performance in Russia. They have been scoring freely in recent matches and this could be a rare goalfest in the group phase.

Senegal may look to frustrate Poland here, knowing that a draw would be a decent result for them but that may be easier said than done. Robert Lewandowski will get all the attention but Poland have goals elsewhere too and we think they can record a solid win.Betting Tip: Poland to Win and BTTS

Russia v Egypt – All Still to Play For

Russia got the dream start, winning their opener 5-0 but in truth the Saudis were simply atrocious at the back. The hosts will find things much harder here against an Egypt side who came very close to keeping Uruguay at bay in their first game. A late winner for Luis Suarez’s men means the North Africans cannot afford to lose here.

It’s hard to predict what will happen because we feel Russia’s opening clash was an anomaly. Moreover, the fitness and 100% match sharpness of Mo Salah remains a doubt. With or without their talisman though, Egypt are tough to break down and work very hard so our prediction here is for a low scoring encounter.

Betting Tip: Under 2.5 goals

Monday 18th June – Day 5

Sweden v South Korea - Cagey World Cup to Continue

We aren’t predicting too many goals at the group stage of this year’s World Cup as not losing is often the first priority. We certainly expect that to be the case here in a game that sees two very different styles go head to head.

Sweden are big favourites to make their power tell and are available at best betting odds of 11/10 to win the match. With both sides full of energy time and space will be at a premium and so we prefer to back a low scoring clash instead.

Betting Tip: Under 1.5 Goals

Belgium v Panama - Belgian Bullies to Batter Panama

Belgium and their main striker, Romelu Lukaku, have a reputation as flat track bullies and against one of the tournaments weakest sides we think they will live up to positive side of that tag in Sochi. Lukaku and co are priced at odds of just 1/5 for the win, with Panama out at a huge 25/1.

Those odds look about right to us and with Belgium scoring freely in qualifying against opponents of this type, we fancy them for an easy win here. Roberto Martinez will know that if England play to their full ability, goal difference could prove decisive in Group G and so we expect Belgium to dominate from start to finish in this match.

Betting Tip: Belgium to Win Both Halves

Tunisia v England - Expect a Scrappy Clash

The biennial cycle of English optimism is now fully in the “this group of players are different and might just spring a surprise” phase. However, history tells us that come the games that matter, the Three Lions rarely deliver the goods. At major tournaments they struggle to break down committed and organised underdogs and that is what we predict here.

Gareth Southgate’s men are big favourites at 2/5, with the North African minnows way out at 10/1. The draw offers some appeal at decent odds but we’re going to play it safer and back another low scoring first round clash. If you’re feeling bold opt for under 1.5 goals but we’re tipping under 2.5 at shorter odds.

Betting Tip: Under 2.5 Goals

Sunday 17th June – Day 4

Costa Rica v Serbia - Value on Central Americans?

There are many interesting groups at the World Cup but Group E could be one of the most fascinating. Tournament favourites Brazil seem certain to top the pile but behind them we have this duo, plus Switzerland, who will all feel they have a great chance of making the last 16.

Costa Rica are the group underdogs, priced at 4/1 to progress and equally they are unfancied here at best betting odds of 15/4. Serbia are odds-on but we fancy the Central Americans are being somewhat underrated. For what FIFA’s rankings are worth, Costa Rica are 11 places above Serbia and we feel they can get a result here.

Betting Tip: Costa Rica +0.5

Germany v Mexico - Germany to Prevail

Germany are the second favourites in the outright betting for the 2018 World Cup and despite some poor results in the build-up they have to be respected. They have formidable strength in depth, as illustrated by the omission from their squad of PFA Young Player of the Season, Leroy Sane.

Mexico are just about fancied to pip Sweden to second in Group F and they would almost certainly accept a point from this game. Recent results haven’t been great for El Tricolor either but they are usually hard to break down. They have conceded just three goals in six games this year and we fancy they can keep things tight in the first half here.

Betting Tip: Draw/Germany in HT/FT

Brazil v Switzerland - Neymar and Co to Show They Mean Business

Brazilian football took some time to mourn their woeful performance on home soil four years ago when Germany humiliated them 7-1 in Belo Horizonte. However, over the past two years they have grown and improved and are worthy favourites to win this year’s World Cup and put 2014 well and truly behind them.

Switzerland are a solid side and could well join Brazil in the last 16 but we think they will be outclassed here. At odds of just 4/9 some may feel Neymar and his colleagues are short enough but we feel that’s actually excellent value. Brazil qualified with real ease, have had great results in friendlies since and boss Tite seems to have got the balance of attack and defence just right.

Betting Tip: Brazil to Win

Saturday 16th June - Day 3

France v Australia – France to Fight to Win

This current Australia team is short on class and was made to fight very hard even to make the finals. That said, heart and commitment are always something you can be sure of getting from any Australian side. With the nation’s cricket team hardly a source of pride right now, we think the Socceroos will be battling even harder than usual.

They will be outclassed in this clash at the Kazan Arena but we think they will be organised and defensively stout. France are a side capable of patience and ultimately we predict they can make their superior ability pay but not until the second period.

Betting Tip: Draw/France in HT/FT

Argentina v Iceland – Viking Nation to Provide Stern Test

Iceland did remarkably well at Euro 2016 and carried on their great form by qualifying for Russia. Results recently have been somewhat alarming but back in competitive action we think they will once again shine. If Iceland had Argentina’s ability they would be almost unstoppable but as it is they get by very well on team spirit.

That is something that Argentina have often seemed to lack but there is no doubting their class and they have a truly stellar attacking line-up. Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero are supported from midfield by Angel di Maria and Iceland will face a tough test. However, Argentina’s defence may be a weak spot and we think the underdogs could well nick a goal here.

Betting Tip: Argentina to Win and BTTS

Peru v Denmark – Value Lies with Underdogs

This is an interesting clash and could end up deciding who joins France in the last 16, assuming the group favourites will top the pile. Remarkably Peru are ranked 11th in the world, an all-time high for them. Denmark are 12th but they are clear favourites here at best betting odds of 6/4, with Peru 13/5.

Peru come to the World Cup with a string of great results behind them, including wins over Scotland, Iceland and Croatia. Denmark have been less impressive and have struggled for goals and we think the South Americans are good value here.

Betting Tip: Peru to Win

Croatia v Nigeria – Midfield Maestros to Master Muscle

Group D looks tough to predict and all four sides will fancy they can qualify, although Argentina are worthy favourites. A draw would be a reasonable result for either side here but it is Croatia who are clear favourites at odds of 4/5. That looks like solid value to us.

Croatia have a star-studded and silky smooth midfield that would push for a place in any squad. The likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovacic and Ivan Perisic should help their side to a win against an athletic but limited Nigeria, especially with Mario Mandzukic there to convert the chances.

Betting Tip: Croatia to Win

Friday 15th June - Day 2

Egypt v Uruguay – South Americans to Nick Win

Uruguay are the clear favourites to win this group which means that Egypt may have to fight things out with Russia for a place in the last 16. The north African team would love to nick a point here but even a narrow loss could prove a solid result in the final reckoning.

Egypt are a defensive side at the best of times but without Mo Salah they are sure to be even more negative. We could see this one ending 0-0 but ultimately the class of Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and co should shine and so 1-0 looks worth a small wager.

Betting Tip: Uruguay to win 1-0

Morocco v Iran – Group Minnows to Play Out Draw

The first game of Group B takes place at 4pm in Saint Petersburg and is not a game too many neutrals will be overly excited by. One way to liven things up, of course, is to have a bet on the match and this is a clash which could go either way.

Both managers may feel this game gives them their best chance of claiming a win but equally they will be aware that defeat here would leave them with a huge mountain to climb. It should be a cagey affair and the draw looks a good shout given the nations are well matched on paper.

Betting Tip: Draw

Portugal v Spain – World Cup Really Roars with Iberian Grudge Match

For some fans the World Cup won’t really start until this Iberian “derby” on Friday evening. This is one of the biggest games of the Group phase and we predict a fascinating clash. Spain are the fourth favourites in the outright betting, with European champions Portugal possible dark horses at best betting odds of 27/1.

In terms of this one it is the 2010 World Cup winners Spain who are the favourites. They are widely available at odds of 10/11 but we think Portugal will make them work for it. Any side with CR7 in it poses a real goal threat and so our prediction here is both teams to score.

Betting Tip: Both Teams to Score

Thursday 14th June - Day 1

Russia v Saudi Arabia – Hosts to Stumble

Russia won the right to host the 2018 World Cup on 2nd December 2010. The fans have been waiting almost eight years and now the big kick-off is just days away. There is always huge expectation on the home nation but Russia couldn’t really have wished for an easier group. They are drawn with their opponents here, as well as Egypt and Uruguay and are odds-on to make the last 16.

We have major doubts about that assessment though and think the Russians, who are very low on confidence, could struggle. They are big odds-on favourites to open with a win against one of the weakest nations at the World Cup. We’re taking a long odds punt on the draw though, which offers real value.

Betting Tip: Draw

The eagerly anticipated 2018 FIFA World Cup is almost upon us, with the top nations in world football fighting for the biggest prize on offer in Russia this summer.

With our odds comparison, we have the best betting odds on all of the top betting markets, including the outright World Cup winner, top goalscorer and much more.

World Cup Format and Information

The 2018 World Cup in Russia will be the 21st World Cup, which will take place from 14th June to 15th July. 32 countries will be involved from all continents in what will be the first World Cup held within UEFA’s Europe since Germany 2006.

There will be eights groups, with the top two from each advancing through to the round of 16. After that, there will be quarter-finals, semi-finals and a third-place play-off before the last two square off in the World Cup final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on 15th July.

Outright Winner: Can the Germans Retain Their Crown?

According to our odds comparison, the usual suspects of Brazil, Germany, Spain and France are amongst the pre-tournament favourites. The Brazilians and Germans, who have won nine World Cups between them, are both available at just 5/1 before a ball has been kicked in Russia.

Brazil will be out for revenge following their humiliating 7-1 defeat to the Germans at the semi-final stage in Belo Horizonte four years ago. Die Mannschaft, who are still managed by the experienced Joachim Low, will be hoping to become the first team to retain the World Cup since Brazil did it way back in 1962.

As for Spain, who have been disappointing in the last couple of tournaments, they are priced at 6/1 with Bet365 to pick up their second World Cup crown. La Furia Roja’s aging squad have all the experience in the world, which could make them a force in Russia.

The final of the standout favourites is France, who arguably have the strongest squad in the tournament. Didier Deschamps has the perfect blend of youth, knowhow, talent and aggression in his star-studded squad. Les Bleus, who are priced at tempting odds of 7/1 with 888Sport, are certainly worth keeping an eye on this summer.

A little further back are the likes of Argentina (9/1 with Betfair), Belgium (12/1 at Sporting Bet) and Portugal (25/1 at Coral). You can make a case for all three, with Argentina always a threat with Lionel Messi in the side, and the Portuguese the reigning European champions. Belgium, meanwhile, have a supremely talented team, and Roberto Martinez’s men could be the dark horses in Russia.

You never quite know what you are going to get with England, who always seem to flatter to deceive in major tournaments. Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions will be an interesting watch in Russia, with Bet365’s betting odds of 18/1 being your best price for the English to cause a shock and lift their first World Cup trophy since 1966.

Other Popular Markets: What Else to Bet On?

Betting on who will be the top scorer is another popular choice with punters. With the likes of Messi, Neymar, Antoine Griezmann, Christian Ronaldo and Harry Kane – to name just a few – all taking part in this showpiece competition in Russia, the race for the Golden Boot promises to be a fascinating tussle. Argentina’s little magician Messi starts as the 9/1 favourite on our odds comparison website, while Tottenham Hotspur’s Kane is available at the top betting odds of 16/1 to finish top of the pile.

Naming the finalists is always exciting, while backing certain nations to get out of their groups is also worth checking out. Plus, with 64 matches taking place over the course of a month in Russia, there will be loads to bet on in this year’s World Cup.